(Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday sued to break up Live Nation Entertainment, saying the big concert promoter and its Ticketmaster unit illegally inflated concert ticket prices, hurting artists and their fans.

The average ticket price for one of the top concert tours reached $122.84 last year, up from $91.86 in 2019, according to the live music trade publication Pollstar. Some fans pay considerably more on the secondary market.

Here are several factors why ticket prices are so expensive.


Announcing the lawsuit, Attorney General Merrick Garland said: "Ticketmaster can impose a seemingly endless list of fees on fans. These include ticketing fees, service fees, convenience fees, platinum fees, price master fees, per order fees, handling fees and payment processing fees."

Fees paid to attend a live concert in the U.S. far exceed fees in comparable parts of the world, the complaint notes. One 2018 report from the Government Accountability Office estimated those fees boosted ticket prices by an average of 27%.

Delivery fees to cover mailing expenses, a facility charge paid to the venue and a ticket processing fee can all add up.


Tickets to hot concerts, such as the Taylor Swift's Eras Tour or Beyonce's Renaissance world Tour, are often sold in advance to members of an artist's fan club, or reserved for agents, venues, promoters and others. But the DOJ said Ticketmaster's exclusivity provisions prevent artists from selling tickets directly to die hard fans and "fan clubs" through pre-sale windows. Third parties often charge less than Ticketmaster.


Professional resellers snap up tickets to the hottest concerts and drive up prices. One report by 404 Media found that professional ticket buyers set up multiple accounts tied to different email addresses and credit cards, and even use specialized browsers, to purchase tickets through advance sales and circumvent the safeguards Ticketmaster put in place to foil scalpers.


The Justice Department's lawsuit says Live Nation directly manages more than 400 musical artists and controls around 60% of concert promotions at major venues. It owns or controls more than 265 concert venues in North America, and through Ticketmaster controls roughly 80% or more of primary ticketing for concerts at big venues.

"In the United States, where Ticketmaster has a higher market share relative to other markets, Ticketmaster is able to charge higher prices and impose higher fees not tied to higher

costs," the Justice department said.

(Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski; editing by Chris Sanders and David Gregorio)

By Dawn Chmielewski